Dec 18, 2010
We just got back from seeing "Black Swan". I don't love going to movies. I love watching movies, but not going to the movie theatre. Every once in awhile I get super excited to see something. As in I have to see it the second it comes out. "Black Swan" was something I've been intrigued by and dying to see the minute it opened.
I am still trying to process it. It was one of those that was truly something else. An experience. Not a regular trip to the movies.
I can barely talk about it. I feel like if I try to out loud I'll burst into tears so writing a blog immediately after is the next best thing.
Let me start off by saying I wanted to be a ballerina. What little girl didn't, right? I took ballet, I wore my tutu all the time. My room was decorated with ballet posters, ballerina dolls, toe shoes on the wall etc. I read books about ballerinas. I don't know what I could have truly done with it. I didn't pursue or know how to purse a career as a ballerina.
Let me also say that Swan Lake is my favorite ballet.
I know what it's like to ride the subway, get off at Lincoln center and head to class.
As we all know, I still grew up to be a performer. I certainly know the feeling of being onstage and the phases we go through as performers.
I've certainly had my time struggling with perfection and being my own worst enemy, "No one is standing in your way but you" is said in the movie. I will always fight it to varying degrees at various times in my life.
The movie was beautifully shot with the camera only inches away from Natalie Portmans face the entire time. You could feel every second. Literally every single second of what she was going through the entire film. They director knew so specifically what he was doing. It was incredibly visceral. My stomach was in knots from the first scene until the end.
I know what it's like to want that role. Total devastation to not get it. The moment when you do get it and all is right in the world. Calling my mom just like she did and how that feels to tell the news. The tears the happiness, the stress, the pressure.
You hear all of this, you read it in writing but it is actually and completely captured in this film.
Let me tell you, honestly, that performers who do what they do professionally, for a living, who eat sleep and breathe it know what it's like, or been like, to walk that fine line (with all the emotion, passion, competition and sensitivity it entails to do what we do) between sane and crazy. Seriously.
I loved the themes of not seeing yourself accurately (the mirrors). Lines blurring with playing a character and turning into the character (the feathers). Self sabotage.
And of course the friend/enemy/competition.
I loved the lines of that relationship blurring. What's the saying about hating in your enemy what you most hate in yourself? I loved the confusing/sexual turn it took for Natalie's character. Living in the world she did, unable to release any kind of stress and completely pent up...that's an example of using sexuality in a movie in the right way. To enhance the frustration, story, characters, etc.
This poor girl couldn't relax. Couldn't catch her breath through the whole movie. I loved (how many times can I say "I LOVED" in this blog?!) that you could always her her breathing - almost panting every time she was dancing. She never had a break. Could never be at rest. She couldn't have any release. An orgasm, privacy, etc. It built through the entire film. Towards the end as her mother is pounding on the door you literally cannot stand it.
I loved that she begged, "anyone but her", regarding Lily as the understudy. Who hasn't thought that/had that thought about them/wanted to be able to say it?
At the end of the movie...after not knowing how it was going to end...all I could think as she's laying there *after her swan song* (trying not to give too much away) and seeing one of the final shots of stage lights...I thought it was perfection. Isn't that how we'd all like it to end?
Complete total perfection. In a movie about a girl struggling so hard to find and be this perfection (and wants it and feels so deeply) that it literally kills her.
I felt myself trying my hardest to hold back my tears. I was almost gasping. I felt like I could even have some kind of an anxiety attack. It was such a ride, at times so hard to watch. Again, because they do a brilliant job of making you feel every single moment.
It left me feeling very sad. Exhausted. Speechless.
I'm serious when I tell you I can't talk about it out loud. Yet. Maybe ever.
I saw it with my sweetheart, thank goodness, because he knew what I'd take from it. He knew what I'd be feeling and that I wouldn't be able to talk about it but totally understand.
As the credits were rolling and people were leaving I heard a couple saying, "that was so weird!"
I wondered if you have to have been a life long performer, dancer or actor to really understand? Or been close to someone who was? I don't know. I'll be curious to see how this affects people I know. Both performers and non performers.
Talk about a dream role. I would have given absolutely anything to play Natalie Portmans role in that film.
What a role of a lifetime.
I could only think how nuts Natalie must have felt through filming and also how incredibly cathartic it must have been as an actress.
That's about all I can say or need to say...I feel like I'm still only able to describe it in a way that sounds like I'm skimming the surface. I don't know if I could do it justice in writing anyway. You just need to see and feel it.
That's kinda the way it is when something affects you so deeply, right?
* * *
What I did take away was inspiration. I'm a little over two weeks away from starting rehearsals for a pretty intense piece. With the exception of one year (my first year at school in NYC when we weren't allowed to do a play while learning our new acting technique) I've done at least two plays every year for ten years. I've been wondering lately if it's time to sit back for a year and reassess. I want to stay a step ahead of the burn out. I want it to always be in love with it. But seeing such a role/performance gave me energy to gear up and get excited for this next (and maybe the last of the year) two month process.